For someone who is relatively new to walking, Baby sure can take off in a hurry! Her desire to keep darting away from you can be a little frustrating and a lot scary, but her running off doesn’t have anything to do with you. To toddlers, the world is still very new, and even more exciting. Baby processes new information through exploring, and running over to something that piques her interest is a way of showing her curiosity and desire to learn. Of course, the concern on your end is safety, and rightfully so. Your curious tot doesn’t yet understand the concept of danger, so it’s up to you to keep her safe when making a break for it is all she wants to do. Here are some tips for keeping your little wanderer near.
- Make expectations clear: Be sure to let Baby know she is expected to stay close to you in situations that can be dangerous, like walks outdoors. If she dislikes the stroller, for example, tell her you don’t mind letting her walk as long as she holds your hand. You may choose to give one warning before implementing a consequence, like getting back in the stroller, but remember to remain firm. Giving multiple warnings will be confusing to her, so it’s important to follow through.
- Allow opportunities for freedom: There are times when your toddler really can’t be allowed to run free the way she may want to, like when she is with you in a crowd or near a busy road, but it’s perfectly fine to let her roam in safe areas. At most parks, she can run through the grass, as long as you keep a close eye and stay within a safe distance. Toddlers need to run and be free, and allowing your little one to do so in a protected area may take away some of her urge to bolt in not-so-safe situations.
- Use the stroller, harness, or carrier: Every parent has their own preferred way of transporting their tot, so choose what works best for you and Baby. A stroller allows her to take in the sights and sounds while still being restrained, but she may prefer the closeness provided by a carrier. On the other hand, she might feel more independent in the stroller. Carriers can be easier to maneuver through crowds, but strollers may be easier on parents. There’s no one way you “should” bring Baby places, and by working out the method that works best for your family, you may cut down on Baby’s daring escapes. Though not all parents are onboard with harnesses, some feel it’s a fair compromise, as it keeps the child close while still offering a bit of freedom.
The bolting phase of toddlerhood is not for the faint of heart. Those little legs can carry your tot pretty fast, so it’s important to be vigilant and stay near her to ensure her safety. Use your best judgment when letting her roam, and remember, it’s best to err on the side of caution. When Baby does follow your directions, remember to offer plenty of praise to reinforce her good behavior.